Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for Engineering and optimization of molecular technologies for functional dissection of neural circuits (UM1 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

ISSUED BY: National Institutes of Health


The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), along with the NIH Institutes and Centers participating in the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative, intends to issue a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to support the creation of Centers for accelerated engineering and optimization of high-impact, molecular technologies to monitor and/or manipulate brain cell activity in experimental animals. The Centers will produce high-impact molecular probes such as, but not limited to, fluorescent protein indicators of neuronal state variables (e.g., intracellular calcium, membrane voltage, released neurotransmitters/neuromodulators, etc.), molecular integrators of neural activity, optogenetic, chemogenetic, sonogenetic, magnetogenetic actuators, and activity-dependent molecular switches. The Centers will be part of the BRAIN Initiative Armamentarium project, whose goal is to generate tools to specifically access, manipulate, and monitor brain cell types across multiple species. Technology optimization is sought for existing tools for brain cell monitoring or manipulation that are beyond the proof-of-concept stage and that can be delivered selectively as payloads to cell types using newly developed brain cell access reagents. Each Molecular Payloads Center is expected to integrate: (1) sufficiently scaled molecular engineering, (2) in vivo validation of improvements seen in engineering assays in intact brains of experimental animals, (3) benchmarking throughout the technology development against existing best-in-class tools, and (4) adaptation of tools into easily produced and applied formats for neuroscience users. Molecular Payloads Centers may also include optional demonstration experiments that establish groundbreaking capabilities of improved molecular tools in vivo. Close interaction will be fostered between technologists and neurobiologists in a research consortium including tool developers funded by other Armamentarium FOAs for brain cell access reagents. The Armamentarium consortium will promote rigorous technology design, benchmarking, validation, and distribution of monitoring and/or manipulation tools and associated brain cell access reagents. This Notice is being provided to allow potential applicants sufficient time to develop the appropriate collaborations for responsive projects. The FOA is expected to be published in December 2022 with an expected application due date in June 2023 and the earliest start date in April 2024. The FOA will use the UM1 activity code (cooperative agreement). Details of the planned FOA are provided below.

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July 22, 2022


July 22, 2022


June 28, 2023